Lessons from The Library, with Zana Morris

Get out your pen and pad, folks; class is in session. Because with more than two decades’ worth of experience in personal training, nutrition and yoga, The Library gym’s founder Zana Morris is here to school you. Alongside her highly trained team of instructors, Zana is responsible for the Notting Hill gym’s revolutionary fitness philosophy (find out more more here): a philosophy that involves express workout sessions – 12 minutes to be exact – and surprising diet plans where fat is no foe.

So with compact, high intensity sessions and a founder who’s ‘not entirely against the likes of butter,’ it’s hardly a surprise The Library is a hit amongst its ever-increasing list of clients – of which are predominately time-poor men and women juggling family and work demands. The appointment-only gym aims to serve as an ‘intelligent space,’ operating as a holistic health centre where members can chill out following their hard core workouts. And given the Kensington Park Road venue’s exquisite interior, very little convincing would be required.

To thank for finessing The Library’s unique aesthetic and brand concept, Karen Welman of design agency Pearlfisher worked with Zana to transform the two-storey synagogue into the elegant, innovative wellness space it is today. Indeed, your average gym, The Library is not.

We sat down with the author whose latest book, The High Fat Diet: How to lose 10 lb in 14 days, was released last Thursday and spoke all things food and fitness. Here are Zana Morris’ answers to all of your healthy living questions.

 On the first thing you should do if you wish to lose weight/tone up:

1. Stabilise insulin, because ‘any weight around the middle tends to be related to the body releasing too much insulin.’
2. Decrease carbohydrate intake, as Zana believes ‘If [you’re] looking at it from a shape point of view, whether that be fat loss or even muscle gain, if you can drop the carbs down your shape will change very fast. Look at the breads, the rice, the pasta – even milk goes into that – and if you can drop them for a couple of weeks, or at least pull back from them, you will drop [pounds] anyway.’
3. Increase fat intake, seeing as ‘fat stabilises insulin.’ Some fatty foods worth incorporating in your diet include avocados, walnuts, pine nuts, macadamia nuts, and pumpkin seeds.

On debunking food myths:

1. ‘Breakfast – that we need to have breakfast – I think is a bit of a myth. It depends on you, how you ate the night before; it depends on whether there’s fat or no fat in [your meal]; portion size. The beauty of fat is that it does slow down the digestion and it tends to be realer as to whether you’re hungry or not. When you take fat out there’s more insulin surging going on, and that triggers of a hormone called ghrelin and that’s what causes the cravings. So, often on the low fat [dieters] don’t know if they’re hungry or not.’

2. ‘I think the thing that hangs on, and it is a hanger from the era of low fat, is that you have to eat at least three times a day no matter what. If you’re doing low fat [dieting] you do need to eat three times a day; you probably have to eat five [times a day] because the fat slows down the digestion, and you’re losing a huge amount of calories by taking it out. You will know yourself who you are, but you don’t necessarily need to eat three times a day.’

On whether ‘bad fats’ exist:

‘I smile when people say that, because what so many people think is “bad fats” I don’t think really are… I’m not sure I’m entirely against the likes of butter either, because if it really was that bad we might all be extinct.’

On superfoods:
‘Even the best greens in the world sitting around for too long lose half their nutrients, so they’re no longer super. I think we bandy things in to big brackets, and I think the classic one that gets shot down all the time is meat. Nobody ever asks, “Where did it come from?”’

For further dietary advice and fitness tips, Zana’s new book, The High Fat Diet: How to lose 10 lb in 14 days can be purchased on Amazon.

The Library; 206-208 Kensington Park Road, London, W11 1NR; T 020 7221 7992; www.thelibrarygym.com.

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